My buddy Tom Brennan yesterday asked about patience which is in precious short supply these days for Mets fans. He pointed out in response to someone criticizing giving Wilmer Flores the opportunity to play how the man responded with his recent 10 hit series against the Dodgers. It was used as evidence of to support what happens when you wait and give people time to develop.
While I agree in principle with the idea of being patient with young players (and wholeheartedly support trying them in ANY spot on the team when the veterans aren’t doing their jobs), the fans have been pathological in their degree of patience with management. Without doing a whole lot of research I tossed out the name of Carlos Beltran as the last significant in-his-prime free agent acquisition this team has made. That was in 2005 – over a decade ago! (Remember when we got Pedro Martinez at the same time?)
What the fans want to see right now is the same kind of commitment to winning that let them roll the dice on the carousing and possibly illegal-drug using Keith Hernandez for homegrown young closer Neil Allen (and Kim Seaman who never made it to the majors). It is the same quantity-to-get-quality move that had then sending Hubie Brooks, Floyd Youmans, Mike Fitzgerald and Herm Winningham to the Expos to bring back Gary Carter. Thirteen years later this pattern repeated when the Mets shipped off Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to bring back an offensive force in Mike Piazza despite having a capable (if PED-aided) Todd Hundley manning the plate. In all of these cases the team took gambles that happened to pay off to get the offensive additions needed to push them to the next level.
Now it’s not always been peaches and cream. Many of us sadly remember the ill-fated Melvin Mora for Mike Bordick trade (in which the Mets actually gave three more non-descript players as well!) Then there’s the infamous Scott Kazmir for “I can fix him in ten minutes” Victor Zambrano.
Still, when you read the various media coverage about possible trade acquisitions the Mets should make – Ben Zobrist, Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra, Brock Holt – these players are not in the same conversation with Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza or Carlos Beltran. Zobrist’s power has been in decline for a few years and while he offers positional versatility, his last solid season came a few years ago when he hit 12 HRs, drove in 75 and hit .275 – nice, but not a “difference maker”. Prado is essentially a marginally better right handed version of Daniel Murphy in terms of what he does with the bat…nice to have, but not enough to propel you over the top. Parra is Juan Lagares. Holt is 28 and having a nice fill-in season for Boston, but again he’s not a middle-of-the-order guy.
There’s an old saying that one should go big or go home. The Mets equivalent of this approach would be to look to solve their offensive problems with a bonafide cleanup hitter who plays any position on the diamond. Like it or not, Lucas Duda could shift to the outfield. Wilmer Flores could go back to SS or 3B. Ruben Tejada could return to the bench where he belongs. Daniel Murphy could go back to 2B and Flores to SS. Cuddyer could go to the IF or the bench. Granderson could shift to CF if they disable Lagares. ANY position could help. I’d even take a catcher if he could hit like Buster Posey or Steven Vogt.
To acquire such a player can be done with quantity or quality. The quantity deals tend to be prospect heavy and could include highly regarded people like Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa, Michael Fulmer, Matt Bowman or Gavin Cecchini. Quality trades would include proven major leaguers like Jon Niese (pitching the best of his career lately), Bartolo Colon, Jenrry Mejia (can’t miss what you never had), or one of the young stud pitchers. I’d go to battle with a starting five of Jacob de Grom, Steve Matz, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and one of Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard if it would bring back a Corey Seager.
Unfortunately the trades made for major league, umm, talent during the Sandy Alderson era have only included the likes of Ramon Ramirez, Andres Torres, Eric Young. (We’re still reeling from the quick Alex Torres/Jerry Blevins deals that happened at the end of Spring Training as they’re so out of character for this regime).
We’ve never seen a prospect-for-prospect deal as it requires guts, something this front office has never demonstrated it has. We’ve never seen them make the emotional and resource investment in the best available player – always settling for a distant second tier choice like Michael Cuddyer.
Years ago you transformed the team with the acquisition of one “bad boy” in Keith Hernandez. See what the Dodgers want for Yasiel Puig who has apparently worn out his welcome there. At just 24 and under contract for $5.5 million next year, he’s a great bridge to Michael Conforto and helps NOW. You might even get him for a package centered around Niese and AA pitchers.
To be fair, the one thing Sandy Alderson has done better than other GMs is keeping his cards close to his vest. The trades he made all came from out of left field. They weren’t leaked to the media weeks in advance. Still, the appearance of no movement after years of no movement at the trading deadline is what drives fans to drink.
Whatever you do, stop deluding the fans. You’re either in it to win or simply not lose. You are currently sporting the 27th worst record in baseball since your 11 game winning streak concluded. You’re not doing too well at the “not losing” part. What is the point of developing one of the most enviable pitching staffs in baseball to let people turn off the game once the team is 2 runs down as they’re averaging 1.44 runs per non-Matz start? You are at or second to the bottom in every offensive category. The team needs bats. No more half measures, please. Be in it to win it.